In case you missed it: September Board of Regents’ meeting


Mackenzie Manley

The Board of Regents meeting was held on September 8. The board addressed several issues currently on the campus community’s minds.

Marking the third week of school, the Board of Regents discussed current issues on NKU’s campus, including budget cuts, sexual assault issues within the NKU community, increases in graduate enrollment and a statement regarding the ‘Welcome White Week’ fliers.

The meeting was held in SU 106 on Sept. 8.  If you missed it, The Northerner has you covered.

Budget cuts: Who was affected?

Addressing the board and guests in attendance, President Geoffrey Mearns said that as of the last week, the employees affected by budget cuts were notified.

In the April budget presentation, Mearns announced that to balance the university’s budget, it would be necessary to cut positions.

“Last spring, we anticipated that nearly 100 positions would be affected, including nearly 36 filled positions,” Mearns said. “At that time, I committed to take all reasonable and appropriate actions to minimize the impact on our existing staff.”

As of last week, 35 employees in total were directly impacted. Of this 35, eight are now employed by a university partner, four retired and two voluntarily resigned from their positions.

That leaves 17 employees who were not able to be placed elsewhere.

“While I know this result is difficult for those 17 individuals and their families, I am grateful for Lori Southwood and her human resources team for helping us to reduce the total impact of our staff,” Mearns said.

In addition, the university is also trialing a voluntary reduction in work schedule program in the College of Arts and Sciences. With this program, employees can voluntarily reduce their standard 37.5 workload to a smaller amount.

Nine employees have been notified that they are eligible for this program thus far.

Sexual assault: Mearns speaks out

Recently, as Mearns cited, sexual assault has made headlines not only within the NKU community, but in universities all across the nation.

Mearns went on to recognize the work of several members of the NKU community to eliminate sexual-based violence within the NKU community, including The Norse Violence Prevention Center, Kathleen Roberts, Ann James and Joan Gates.

“As a result of the efforts of these individuals, and our entire campus community, we have a safe campus. In fact, for two years in a row, a national study has concluded that our campus is one of the safest in the country,” Mearns said. “And the number and percentage of reported incidents on our campus are below the national average and less than some of the other institutions in our region. That’s very good. But it’s not good enough.”

In light of these issues, Mearns announced that the university has directed the legal counsel to employ the expertise of Dinsmore & Shohl, a major law firm in the region.

Dismore & Shohl will conduct an independent, comprehensive assessment of the policies and procedures regarding sexual-based violence currently in place at the university. According to Mearns, once the findings and recommendations from Dismore are complete, they will be shared with the campus community.

“We believe that our policies and practices comply with federal and state law,” Mearns said. “But because of our commitment to the safety and welfare of our students, I believe that we should continue to identify ways to improve – to exceed the requirements of the law.”

This issue, Mearns said, is not only his duty, but also personal. With four daughters from the age of 18 to 24, three of which live on a college campus and one who who lives on NKU’s campus, the issue becomes about his own family as well.

Mearns also said that some media sources have painted NKU in an unfavorable light, undermining and demoralizing the work of individuals across campus working towards eliminating sexual-based violence in the NKU community.

“But you may have read in the media some stories that suggest that we are indifferent to the plight of such victims or that we are trying to hide the truth about these issues on our campus,” Mearns said.  “These articles have been promoted by a lawyer who would prefer to litigate his case in the media, as opposed to have the claims fairly adjudicated by an experienced federal judge. This lawyer knows that we cannot disclose information that is protected by federal student privacy laws, even when those facts would support the University’s legal position.

“We will continue to respect the privacy rights of our students, even when it is tempting to disclose that information in order to refute an unfounded claim or to respond to unfair stories in the media.

“The media accounts that this lawyer has orchestrated are not merely annoying. They are insulting. They unfairly damage the reputations of the women and men who volunteer to serve on our Board of Regents.”

Mearns ended by reminding the board that the safety and welfare of the university’s students is paramount and will not be compromised.

Increase in graduate enrollment, ACT scores

Enrollment in graduate programs have increased across campus, which was a goal that the board had set in the past, Mearns said.

In addition to a rise in graduate enrollment, Mearns also noted that the incoming freshmen class has the highest average ACT scores in the history of the university, standing at 25. A decade prior, the average score was 21.2.

‘Welcome White Week’ flyers: Not authorized or recognized

On Tuesday evening fliers were placed in a location on campus by an unknown individual that read ‘Welcome White Week’ next to a flyer that read ‘Welcome Black Week.’

Mearns said the ‘Welcome White Week’ fliers were not authorized by the university. The events listed on the flyer were not held, and the organization on the flyer is not known or recognized by the university.

In response to these fliers, students organized a peaceful protest that Mearns, along with other faculty, administrators and staff, attended.

“At the event i had the opportunity to express my respect and appreciation for the constructive response by our students,” Mearns said. “I reiterated my personal commitment to maintaining and building a welcoming campus community that welcomes diversity and values inclusive excellence.”

The message of inclusion, diversity and empowerment is one Mearns stated that he was committed to maintain, along with the rest of the NKU community.